4:51pm PT by Ashley Cullins
'America's Got Talent' Producer Sued by Contestant for "Traumatizing" Her Daughter
A husband-wife pair that auditioned for America's Got Talent says their daughter is "deeply depressed" following their experience filming for the show, and they're suing Marathon Productions.
Jane Doe describes herself as a singer-songwriter and her husband as a guitarist, producer and recording engineer with whom she's worked for two decades. Jane says she and John Doe auditioned for AGT in New York City in January and performed a number of songs, including an original work that she wrote about her daughter. Producers then asked the young girl, referred to as Mary Doe in the suit, about the song and she told them she asked her parents to perform it, according to the complaint filed Monday in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
Jane, John and Mary flew out to L.A. in March to participate in filming for the show. That's when, the suit claims, Marathon tried to enter into a contract with Mary — a minor — without the consent or supervision of her parents.
Jane claims she and John were "publicly humiliated" by the show's judges — specifically Tyra Banks — and that producers told Mary to "act embarrassed and annoyed by her parents' performance." The singer also claims Banks "physically manipulated and verbally abused" Mary and, while making fun of the performance, insinuated that the child was "accidentally conceived."
"Mary was traumatized, and became deeply depressed," writes attorney Elizabeth Yang, adding that Mary becomes nervous and anxious when she hears the song and "whenever she thinks about the prospective televised airing or use online" of her parents' performance and footage of herself.
Jane says she asked Marathon to refrain from using the footage and described Mary's emotional distress, and the producer agreed to not feature Mary but said it would use footage of Jane and John.
Doe is suing for intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress and civil assault and battery. Marathon, NBC and representatives for Banks did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
AGT producers sent The Hollywood Reporter a statement on Thursday saying the lawsuit will be dismissed: “We take great care of all acts that cross the AGT stage and their families. Tyra has been an incredible addition to AGT with her vibrant energy and maternal nurturing spirit, and we look forward to continuing to watch her positive influence on the show.”
May 24, 5:20 p.m. Updated with a comment from America's Got Talent producers.